How do I join the ds-connex community?

To join the ds-connex community, click on the “Get Started” button in the top navigation bar and fill out the form. After completing the form, one of our staff members will contact you for further discussion and to answer any questions.

How do I add users to my organization’s account?

Adding other members of your staff, board, or event committee allows them access to valuable information about your organization. You can add as many additional users as you like. Enter your name and password after selecting the blue Login button on the main website page. After logging in you will see “Hello [your name]”. If you click on this, a drop down will appear. Click on “My Buddy Walk Page” and you will be taken to your personal profile page. Select “Send Invite”. Enter the information of the user you want to add and click Submit. An email will be sent to the new user, which will guide them to setting up their profile. Each additional user will have access to your individual reports for social media, search engine optimization and fundraising but only the primary contact will be able to update specific event information including date, website address, Facebook account and Twitter account information.

How do I post a comment to the Connexions Blog?

The Connexions Blog welcomes comments from anyone who wants to share feedback/comments/questions after reading a post submitted by the ds-connex staff. The author is Jen Kerns, a ten year Buddy Walk® team captain for the DSACO Buddy Walk in Columbus, Ohio. We welcome anyone to submit ann articles for discussion on our website. If you want to leave a comment, select a specific article by clicking its title, go the bottom of the article and leave your reply in the comment box. Unfortunately in today’s cyber attacking world, we have a moderator review and approve all comment to prevent inappropriate language by hackers not associated with our Down syndrome community.

Where do I find my Social Media Reports?

Enter your name and password after selecting the blue Login button on the main website page. After logging in you will see “Hello [your name]”. If you click on this, a drop down will appear. Click on “My Buddy Walk Page” and you will be taken to your personal profile page. On this page, you will find your individualized reports for social media, search engine optimization and fundraising results.

How is ds-connex different from Donor Drive, Kintera or First Giving?

Exclusive Purpose

We are family not a vendor. We are a member of the Down syndrome community and the ds-connex strategy is far more than offering a fundraising solution. We developed our holistic strategy after nine months of research and working directly with NDSS. We believe that building a strong community through shared knowledge, creating national outreach through social media, and developing our own fundraising solution can lead to more awareness, acceptance, and advocacy of Down syndrome across the nation. We offer to assist every location across the country, no mater how large or small.

Our fundraising software Stride, was created exclusively for Buddy Walk® events based on its four year history with Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio. We took the time to visit Buddy Walk events in 2013 as well as solicit their input for creating the best fundraising tool that meets the needs of the Buddy Walk.

Extensive Year-Around Support

We have team members with experience as both walkers and team captains and can relate to your questions and provide clear, easy to understand advice. Fundraising tools provided by many vendors can be cumbersome and hard to understand because the terminology is generic for all and custom for no one.

We support Buddy Walk event coordinators with limited resources by offering to set up your Buddy Walk® event including uploading photos, creating banners, and customizing forms for your local event. We do not charge additional fees for this support.

We have develop extensive training materials in the form of online manuals and tutorials specifically designed for the Buddy Walk. We offer training to your team captains how to effectively use Stride.

No Buddy Walk Too Small

We want to work with all Buddy Walks regardless of size. We currently are working to bring on board a first year Buddy Walk® from Scottsboro, Alabama with a goal to raise $10,000. Under the FAQs on the Donor Drive website they say that the typical non-profit they can provide the most benefit is raising $150,000 or more per year.

More Effective Results

Our approach to fundraising involves more than just a great fundraising tool, we also provide Social Media advice to engage a larger audience of participants and donors. We will take the time to help you implement a customized plan and show you tips and techniques to manage the process.

Fees and Merchant Account

We don’t charge a setup or annual fee for the use of Stride. Our system uses your merchant account allowing all donations to be deposited into your account immediately.

Community Driven Enhancements

Local Down syndrome offices no longer need to worry about expensive customization fees. Each year the community of Stride users are encouraged to submit ideas and features that will enhance the participant’s experience. The cost of all enhancements are funded by the Wells Foundation.

What features of Stride are different?

Stride is an online fundraising solution originally developed for the Down Syndrome of Central Ohio by GroundWork group to assist with the Buddy Walk event. The Wells Foundation funded the expansion of the solution to be used by all Buddy Walk locations nationwide. The solution has been completely customized for the sole purpose of engaging participants and donors to support your local Buddy Walk. Stride is exclusively for our Down Syndrome community and not offered to any other nonprofits. Each year Stride will add more capabilities based on the feedback from users at no cost.

Unique features of STRIDE


Easy to customize Buddy Walk registration page including rotating pictures, banner, and sponsor logos.

Visually appealing supporting the culture of the Buddy Walk celebration.

Each feature such as registration fees can be activated or deactivated by the event coordinators based on local event policies.

Reduced time to configure your event since Stride is loaded with Buddy Walk default text for waivers, registration and donation receipts, team captain bio and other forms.

Cart System

Our unique Cart System allows participants to order hats, calendars, bandabouts etc. at time of registration check out. Up to twenty items including photos can be uploaded with pricing information. Stride reports will keep track of total amounts sold by each item.

Registration Process is Simple

Walkers can add multiple registrants, select from cart items and add a donation in one transaction. Walkers will appreciate the one time entry of their credit information to complete all these transactions.

Donation Process is Simple

An individual has the option to donate to multiple walkers, teams or make a general donation at one time. Those needing to make multiple donations will also appreciate the need to only enter their credit information one time.

Team Communications

Buddy Walk team captains have predefined emails to communicate with all or selected team members and donors. These emails will simplify the communication process, remind team members of the goal and team logistics.

Payment Processing by Team Captains

Buddy Walk team captains can reduce the efforts of event coordinators by entering their own cash and check donations. All entries are marked as pending until approved.

Processing Fees

Donors will have the option to pay for processing fees allowing 100% of the donation to be given to the Buddy Walk.

Where can I submit an enhancement for Stride?

Ds-connex encourages Buddy Walk event coordinators that utilize the Stride fundraising solution to make suggestions for future enhancements. Ds-connex is covering the cost of future enhancement and local Down syndrome locations will no longer need to pay customization fees to other providers. We are a community that is in control of our own solution. Logon using your dedicated logon and password. Under Fundraising on the top navigation bar, click the drop down titled “Stride Training”. On the right side of the page there is a “Tell Us” box. Submit any suggestions to Stride here.

Do you charge for services?

Ds-connex is funded by the Tony R. Wells Foundation and provides year-round advice on social media strategies and fundraising best practices at no charge. For those locations using the Stride fundraising solution, we charge a percentage of the donation enabling us to cover our technology cost. There are no setup or implementation fees.

How do I post/comment on the Community Forum?

The Community Forum is for Down syndrome Buddy Walk event coordinators that utilize the Stride fundraising solution. It’s a dedicated area to share, discuss and learn from your peers and the ds-connex staff how to leverage Stride to engage more teams and raise more money. If you have a formal logon, you can see and select the forum from the Community menu. On the Forum page, to create a new post, click “New Post”. To comment on the Community Forum, select “Add Comment” underneath a specific question.

Can I start a new BUDDY WALK®?

The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) is the legal owner of the national Buddy Walk® event held nationwide. To create a new Buddy Walk® you must apply and be approved by NDSS. Ds-connex has no authority to grant permission to host a Buddy Walk® and was created for the purpose of supporting those approved Down syndrome organizations and volunteer parent groups who host an approved and registered Buddy Walk® event. Ds-connex is not affiliated or owned by NDSS and is funded by the Tony R. Wells Foundation because of our shared passion that raising donations through the Buddy Walk® will ensure local programs are available for our Down syndrome community.